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Muppet MovieThe Muppet Movie

Monster Mayhem

The original movie spinoff of the popular Jim Henson characters, the Muppet Movie is the story (well, sort of) of how the monster puppets came to Hollywood.

Kermit the Frog (is his middle name really "the?") is sitting on a log in his home swamp, plucking plaintively away on his banjo, wondering in song why there are so many songs about rainbows when a Hollywood agent (Dom DeLuise, in the first of many celebrity cameos) suggests he take his talent to "the dream factory." This starts Kermit on a music and laughter-filled cross country jaunt to follow his dream.

Along the way he meets up with, befriends, and invites to join him, Fozzie Bear, Miss Piggy, Gonzo and the rest of the Muppet crew we've come to know and love over the years.

Naturally, there has to be some conflict in good drama (assuming that's what this movie is, of course) and in "The Muppet Movie" it's provided by Charles Durning as the misguided Doc Hopper, owner of a chain of fast food frog's legs restaurants who wants Kermit to be his corporate shill.

Doc isn't really a bad guy, but he represents corporate America and that can't be good, can it?

The movie is full of delightful Paul Williams/Kenny Ascher songs and the type of pun-filled banter that made the original Muppet TV show such a worldwide hit. The story is entertaining, the stunts (yes, Muppets have stunt doubles - though Kermit claimed he did his own) are fun, and the whole shebang turns into a lighthearted hour and a half in the home theater.

In short, it's a delight for viewers of all ages.

What isn't quite so delightful is the DVD itself. While Columbia Tristar has given the disc its usual digital mastering and the film is presented in both anamorphic widescreen (16x9 TV compatible) and Pan&Scan editions, there are many places in this film in which the picture quality is simply too grainy to pass muster. This may be due to the source material, but whatever the cause we just don't like it. It's too bad because parts of the film look fine, but not enough of it. The Dolby Digital 5.1 audio sounds okay, though.

For extras, we're treated to director Jim Frawley's camera test, and it's a pretty interesting bit of extra. There's also "Muppetisms: Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy, and Rizzo" as well as some bonus trailers.

Still, we'd rather have a Muppet Movie with warts (and, since there's a frog involved how can it not have - or at least cause - warts? Oh, sorry, that's toads.) than no Muppet Movie, so sit back and prepare to laugh.

The Muppet Movie, from Columbia Tristar Home Video
95 min, widescreen (1.85:1), 16x9 compatible, Pan&Scan, Dolby Digital 5.1
Starring the Muppets, Charles Durning, Austin Pendleton and assorted celebrity guests
Written by Jerry Juhl & Jack Burns
Produced by Jim Henson, Directed by James Frawley.


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Updated May 13, 2006